Policy & Politics
California: Complementary Health Agency Set to Receive Help
September 18, 2008
The Immune Enhancement Project (IEP), a nonprofit that provides services including acupuncture and therapeutic massage to people with AIDS and other conditions, announced on Sept. 12 that it would close by the end of the month. Now, city officials say they are evaluating ways to help the agency.
IEP's budget for this fiscal year is about $500,000, said Shane Convery, its co-executive director. IEP was "already operating on a bare bones budget" as a result of previous cuts, Convery said; then the city sliced its allocation to the agency by about 50 percent, to $126,000, for the fiscal year that began in July. "The current budget cut threatens our ability to cover the basic costs of providing services," he said.
City Supervisor Bevan Dufty said he had discussed the agency's plight with the Board of Supervisors. Dufty said he asked the city controller to have the audit management team review the situation to calculate IEP's financial gap this year; asked the health department to expedite the board's grant request for IEP; and asked IEP to determine if there are in-kind contributions people or businesses could make to help.
Michelle Long, the city's director of HIV health services, said IEP "didn't contact the Department of Public Health to let us know they had a funding problem of this magnitude." She said her agency only learned of the situation when the Bay Area Reporter asked the health department about it.
"We are currently working with the agency to make sure they get all the funding available to them as soon as possible," Long said. "We'll be working with them to identify alternative sources of funding and determine strategies for supporting their clients."
In addition to its 700 clients, IEP provides 2,000 no- or low-cost treatments to clinics in underserved neighborhoods, Convery said. For more information, visit www.iepclinic.com.
Bay Area Reporter
09.18.2008; Seth Hemmelgarn